11 August 2014, SKA Organisation HQ, Jodrell Bank, UK – Following ratification by the Board of Directors, India’s National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) has now become the 11th full member of SKA Organisation.
“NCRA’s full membership cements India’s intention to play an important part in the SKA, and shows the project is steadily moving forward, with more countries expected to join in the near future,” said Professor Philip Diamond, the SKA Organisation Director General.
NCRA first joined SKA Organisation in April 2012 as an Associate Member, indicating its intention of becoming a Full Member during the pre-construction phase of the project. NCRA has, in fact, been involved in the SKA project since the project’s earliest days and was one of the institutions that signed an agreement in 1997 to develop technologies for a large-scale radio telescope.
In November 2013, SKA Organisation attributed 10 work packages representing the various elements of the SKA to 10 international consortia drawn from nearly one hundred institutions, universities and industry around the world to participate in the analysis and design of the components of the SKA during its three year detailed design phase.
NCRA, a centre of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, is leading the Telescope Manager consortium, a key element of the SKA telescope focused on developing all hardware and software necessary to control the telescope, including the software needed to schedule telescope operations and monitor the status of each of the SKA’s thousands of dishes and antenna stations. NCRA is also a participant in the Signal and Data Transport and Central Signal Processing work packages of the SKA.
Professor Yashwant Gupta, who is leading the Telescope Manager consortium at NCRA, has been appointed as NCRA’s representative on SKA Organisation’s Board of Directors.
“We are very happy to further strengthen our involvement with the SKA. The SKA is one of India’s key science priorities of the next decade and we are proud to represent our country in this exciting international science collaboration,” he said following the decision.
Prof. S.K. Ghosh, Centre Director at NCRA further added that “Involvement in the SKA will also benefit next generation improvements in projects in India such as the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), built and operated by NCRA”.
The proposal to transfer NCRA’s full membership status to the Government of India is under active consideration by the Government. The transfer would ensure a wider participation of other interested parties in India and secure the long-term participation of India in the project.
About the SKA
The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. The scale of the SKA represents a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a radio telescope, and will deliver a correspondingly transformational increase in science capability when operational.
Deploying thousands of radio telescopes, in three unique configurations, which will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky thousands of times faster than any system currently in existence. The SKA telescope will be co located in Africa and in Australia. It will have an unprecedented scope in observations, exceeding the image resolution quality of the Hubble Space Telescope by a factor of 50 times, whilst also having the ability to image huge areas of sky in parallel. With a range of other large telescopes in the optical and infrared being built and launched into space over the coming decades, the SKA will perfectly augment, complement and lead the way in scientific discovery.
SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and to centralise the leadership of the project. Countries represented by full members in SKA Organisation are Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Professor Yashwant Gupta
National Centre for Radio Astrophysics
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Pune University Campus, Pune 411007, India.
Mr Mathieu ISIDRO
Deputy Communications and Outreach Manager
Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK
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